The Amazon fires: a symbol of destructive far-right capitalism

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro denies scientific proof that the most bio-diverse rain forest on earth is under rapid degradation following huge fires

It comes as no surprise that the South American rain forest is the biggest in the world and is home to millions of plant and animal species, but around 20% of land has been cleared in the past 50 years. Surges in fires breaking out around the globe due to increasing temperatures and drought has attracted the media’s attention, but Brazil’s fires that started in June puts the emphasis on a government that chooses farming and ‘development’ rather than conservation. The fires wiped out the homes of indigenous tribes and saw the loss of animals such as monkeys, tigers and reptiles. The disaster made international headlines, but as quickly as people were talking about it- the urgency to help and spread the news was soon forgotten.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) released a report with satellite images showing the rapidly declining forest, in which Bolsonaro called the publication a ‘lie’. Subsequently, Ricardo Galvao- the head of the organization, was forced to resign from his position in August.

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It is suspected that fires were deliberately started to clear land for illegal cattle ranching in order to supply beef to the rest of the world, in which Brazil produces a quarter to the global market. Deforestation has wiped out more than 9,762km² of dense forest and Jair Bolsonaro has been blamed for his lack of care towards Amazonian inhabitants and his far-right unethical approaches to increase Brazil’s power in the food market. He said at the UN General Assembly annual debate in September: “It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind, and a misconception, as confirmed by scientists, to say that our Amazonian forests are the lungs of the world. Using these fallacies, certain countries instead of helping, embarked on the media lies and behaved in a disrespectful manner and with a colonialist spirit”.

The president is against protecting the rights and livelihoods of the Amazonians who have been living on the land for thousands of years. He has spoken out freely against the natives both before and during his office; here is a list of the times when he has expressed his racist and ruthless intentions:

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The Amazon isn’t the only place where animals are becoming extinct and where habitats are under threat; Central Africa and Indonesia are currently facing catastrophic fires. Some are caused by nature, but most are man-made and are the result of agriculture and palm oil businesses clearing land in developing countries where conservation laws are relaxed.

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